NASA has cleared an experimental supersonic plane created to reduce, or maybe even eliminate, sonic booms, for final assembly, opening the door for super-fast commercial travel over land.
Supersonic air travel is something that NASA has been trying to ideal for some time. The X-59 hopes to change the negative reputation of supersonic aircraft with a design that mitigates the boom and produces little more than a soft "thud".
According to the agency, its X-59 space plane has been cleared for final assembly and is now ready for 'integration of its systems'. Lockheed Martin said previous year it could get the plane to where it's sound barrier-breaking noise would be about as loud as a auto door closing, rather than a sonic boom. Those tests will help establish new rules for commercial supersonic air travel over land.
"The X-59 is shaped to reduce the loudness of a sonic boom reaching the ground to that of a gentle thump, if it is heard at all".
After a project review, NASA officials have approved the final assembly of the X-59 QueSST, the quiet, supersonic X-plane designed by Lockheed Martin.
The X-59 has just undergone a management review, known as Key Decision Point-D (KDP-D), which was considered by NASA to be "the last programmatic hurdle for the X-5".
NASA will be testing the X-59 among the selected U.S. communities to collect data and feedback. "We have everything in place to continue this historic research mission for the nation's air-travelling public", said Bob Pearce, NASA's associate administrator for aeronautics, in a statement.
It was the last hurdle in the X-59 development and construction program before it seeks approval for first flight, now scheduled in 2021, which the officials will decide upon when they meet again in late 2020.
Lockheed Martin and Nasa are building the X- 59 at the facility named, Lockheed at the facility named, "Lockheed Skunk Works" in Palmdale, California.